The glowing red clock at the front of the van read 2:14 a.m. Flashes of the outskirts of Cusco, Peru—streetlights, rows of cramped convenience stores, hand-painted ads on stucco walls—whipped past my periphery, punctuating the near darkness.
Circa-2013 pop music almost drowned out the sounds of our van rattling as it flew over pot holes and swerved around slower cars. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the road straight ahead—instead of how fast we were going, instead of the tangle of apprehension and nausea growing in the pit of my stomach. I was utterly exhausted, but wide awake with nerves.
“Which do you prefer: a tightly packed itinerary, or an open schedule with plenty of free time?”
It’s one of the most important questions to ask when you’re planning a trip—especially if you’re with a travel buddy—up there with “Museums and cultural sites, or off-the-beaten-path local spots?” and “Four-star hotel or youth hostel?”
Chris and I have been talking a lot about the pace of our traveling lately. While we’re pretty well matched as travel partners, it’s one area where we have to communicate and compromise a bit. I tend to be more of the go-go-go, check-off-the-list, get-all-the-best-pictures, FOMO-driven type, while Chris…Chris would prefer to skip that 6:30 a.m. walking tour. Neither is the right or wrong way to experience a new place—just different.
Our U.S.A. road trip was, on the whole, pretty fast-paced. We hardly spent more than a day or two in one place before we were off to the next destination. While we certainly worked in some down time—and I can’t say that I would necessarily change anything—it was definitely a whirlwind. Two months isn’t as long as it sounds for a country as big as ours!
So, from the start, we’ve tried to adopt a slightly more laid-back approach to this South American half of our adventure. There’s two main reasons:
Well, it’s somehow already here—part two of our adventure starts in T-minus 30 minutes when we board our flight to Lima (by way of ATL of course).
After a wonderful weekend seeing Hartsville friends and dancing the night away at a beautiful wedding, the past week has been a flurry of packing, organizing, re-packing, calling banks, running errands, buying last-minute supplies, booking hostels, checking and re-checking schedules and flight plans, and hitting up all of our favorite Greensboro restaurants in between all the trip prep. 🙂
And of course, this one important errand:
It’s been a little bit hectic, but I think we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. We don’t have every step of our route planned out (trying to leave some room for spontaneity), but here’s the general itinerary:
Vinicunca (“Rainbow Mountain”) day trek
4-day Inca Trail trek into Machu Picchu
Puno & Lake Titicaca
Arequipa & Colca Valley
Torres Del Paine National Park
If I’m being honest, I’m much more nervous about this trip than our U.S. route. I haven’t traveled like this since my study abroad days in college (somehow more than 6 years ago now)…and this time, neither of us speak hardly a word of Spanish. [Side note: I bought “learn Spanish” CDs for the road trip and we listened to a grand total of one 30-minute lesson. So “Hola, senorita! Habla Ingles?” is about the extent of my Spanish knowledge. This should get us pretty far.]
But knowing that I’m a chronic over-preparer, I’m reminding myself again that we can’t be ready for everything—and between the two of us, we’ll be able to figure it all out one way or another. After all, we did make it through that one time in Paris when we accidentally got stranded in a strange suburb at 1:00am when the trains stopped running.
And with that said, I have a plane to board…wish us luck! Hasta luego America, see ya in two months!
Well, the secret is out. Now that all family, close friends, landlords, employers, etc. have all officially been informed, I am so excited to finally go public with some VERY big news: In just over a month, Chris and I are leaving Hartsville and hitting the road for one of the biggest adventures of our lives!
After four wonderful years living the small-town life, we’ve decided to finally do something we’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time—quit our jobs, sell/donate/pack up everything we own, and TRAVEL. From late August through mid-December (in two parts), we’ll be crossing a few big things off of our travel wish list…